Millions of businesses are signed up to Google+: it has become an important part of both social media and SEO initiatives. Did you know that Google+ engagement is comparatively better than most social networks? According to SEP, “Google+ active users spend quality time on the site — an average of 3:46 per visit.” And Google+ bounce rate is excellent at 53.6%. See chart below.
So what happens when Google decides to shut down the platform?
You didn’t see that coming but it’s actually going to happen over the next 10 months. To the uninitiated, this may not seem like a problem. But to you that every once in a while uses Google+, why wouldn’t Google just consider you!
The fact is that Google is taking steps to shut down the consumer version of Google+, according to a report released on October 8, 2018, by the company.
The core reasons why Google is making this delicate move is because, according to data from the organization, Google+ has “low usage engagement” — 90% of user sessions on Google+ has a duration of less than 5 seconds.
Also, there’s an undisclosed security flaw that exposed users’ profile data on the platform which was curtailed in March 2018.
Guess what? Google has plans in place to keep Google+ functioning for enterprise customers and co-workers who use it for communication. For this use case, new features are in place to be rolled out.
As an online marketer, how does this move affect you? What’s the implication on your social media engagement, and most assuredly, your search visibility?
Google+ is Out: The Impact on Social Media
Even though Google had removed a lot of resources from Google+ there’s still a loyal fan base who don’t want to see it go.
Just look at all the amazing men and women globally who use the network. A vast majority of the users are in the U.S.
In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I use Google+ to engage with my target audience. Sure, the platform may not yield a direct result (such as leads or sales), but it adds up.
Building social engagement with fans is time-consuming. And sometimes, you need more than a micro-social site like Twitter to really stand out and build trust with your audience.
Yes, there’s a good reason to shut down the consumer version of Google+, especially after the discovery of a massive data leakage that exposed private profile information.
However, what if Google improves it? Why not build strong security systems to prevent this from happening in the future?
Business consultants, startups, and even freelancers use Google+. In fact, 62% of B2B businesses still use Google+.
For example, Lewis, a freelance content writer who has spent most of his career life in the Costa Rican rainforest, begins his morning conversing with his friends on Google+, sipping coffee, and reading his feeds on Google+
Google+ might not be a noisy social network like Facebook and Twitter, but like Lewis and several millions of users, it’s been a stealth social circle where you’re able to engage in meaningful conversations, connect with like-minded people, and build the insightful relationships.
Does social media in general affect SEO?
When we’re able to answer this question, then we can come to a conclusive thought on Google+ and whether or not it helps with search visibility (no matter how tiny) + other benefits.
Recall in 2010, when Google and Bing affirmed the use of social signals to help improve pages performance in the search engine. When Twitter temporarily blocked access to their search platform 4 years down the line, a lot of mixed thoughts about whether or not Google’s confirmation still works.
Matt Cutts, former head of WebSpam at Google confirmed in a video that Google can’t rely on social signals (and any other signals) that will not be available tomorrow.
Although Google has denied expressly that social signals don’t affect search rankings, a lot has changed since 2014. This is 2018 and we know that social signals may not directly cause a boost in rankings but it can correlate with other ranking factors.
For example, the guys at HootSuite conducted an exclusive experiment to determine how much impact social signals affect organic rankings.
They published 30 useful articles that received no organic signals from social media.
They also published another set of 30 articles organically to Twitter and ran a campaign to boost these posts for two days with a budget of $100 each.
The results are in:
The control articles that received no organic signals from social media didn’t receive any significant rankings. However, the 30 articles that received Twitter signals and boost saw a 22% increase in search visibility.
Verdict: From this experiment, we can deduce that there’s a strong correlation between social engagement and search rankings.
So, does Google+ affect search visibility?
Yes, it appears so. Especially when you consider that you can get a dofollow link from the network. Of course, not every profile gets the chance to link out externally with a dofollow link.
It seems that Google gives this privilege to a group of users based on the number of +1 and engagement across the board.
For example, Cezary Lech, the Head of Marketing at MaxRoy got a dofollow link from his Google+ profile linking to sprawnymarketing.pl
The opportunities in Google+
Looking at it closely, you can see that Google shutting down Google+ consumer version will be disheartening, to say the least. All of these opportunities:
- Getting personalized results and sharing advantages.
- Attracting natural links to posts.
- Gaining dofollow links from fans sharing your posts.
- Increasing social authority and footprints.
- Maintaining a verified business page…
All of these and more will be gone. Marketers will only pay lip service to it, without truly enjoying it. Personally, I like to index my new posts using Google+. And it works. That opportunity will be gone too! How sad?
The most common concern that businesses have when they first heard that Google+ is going down was: what happens to my business listings? Will I still get traffic and visibility in the map packs?
Well, you don’t have to worry. In March of 2018, Google sent out an email to businesses listed on their platform. It reads:
So apart from building social conversation and engagement with your target audience (which isn’t exciting on +1), your business listings will still be active and functional. That’s a breath of fresh air!
You have seen the benefits it offers. Specific industries and businesses that use the enterprise version are going to use it more — even as Google adds new features to it.
Let’s brace up and watch what happens with Google+.